Friday, February 18, 2011

Saying the "See you later's"

I have a general rule. I don't say "goodbye". It's too hard, too final, too.... serious. So, for the past week, I have been saying "I'll see you soon" or "We'll see you later". And, it's true. John and I will be back. We are not gone forever from France, only for a while. 

People ask us often whether we had a lot of friends in France and the answer, honestly, is no. We had a small group of friends, scattered across several age groups and nationalities and work places but man, are we going to miss them. Some of the most wonderful people I have ever known are living in France. They have helped us buy cars, find doctors and dentists and optometrists, taken us to their favorite places, and taken us into their homes. 

When you move to another city, you always wonder what it will be like. Will they be kind? Will we be able to find our way around? Will I ever learn the language? Do I reeealllyyy have to eat the snail? And, for the most part, the answer is yes to all the above. But the only way we ever made it through the tough parts of our life here is thanks to the amazing people we met.

So, before I get all blubbery in a blogpost, to each and everyone of you- Thank you. We would never have made it without you. And, we will see you so so soon!

And, to all of our friends and families in the US, We love you and we will see you next week!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Update Monday: Moved!

Well, we are homeless. 
This morning 3 french gentlemen came and packed all of our earthly belongings into a 3 meter square box. How many Americans can say that all they own fits in a 3m box? We have learned the importance of downsizing, living with the minimum you need, and not getting very attached to things. A clutter bug I am not. Ah well, give me a few months.. things may change. ;) 

The rest of my day was spent cleaning like crazy, scrubbing everything from the insides of closets to the inside of the fridge. Still more to do tomorrow. Yehhhhh! 

Finally, I had a wonderful goodbye with my library friends. The English-American library  was the first place that I found in Nice that felt "right" and I am so thankful for each of them. 

Now, I am going to fall into bed, sleep like a baby and be ready to clean again!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The End of Boxed Brownies

When we first moved here, there was a huge learning curve with baking. The flour is different, they have different types of sugar, no chocolate chips, no cocoa powder, no vanilla extract (that is any good...) It took me 6 months to make a decent chocolate chip cookie. But, once I made that perfect cookie, it all started to come together.

My husband has said that necessity is the mother of invention and he is very right. Most people would think I am crazy for craving things like cheesecake and brownies in the land of pain au chocolat and croissants filled with almond cream (to. die.for. ) but I did. We both did. Something about a brownie, warm from the oven, just felt like home. So, one night several months ago, I decided to try making brownies from scratch. 

I know what you are thinking- "Brownies from scratch?!? Just open a box of Betty Crocker!" And to that I say, "Betty Crocker I do not have!" (Mixes don't exist here unless you want to pay about 7 euros ($9.50) for a single box.) 

These brownies were so amazingly good that I will never make a boxed mix again. I promise. And, if you try them too, I bet ol' Betty will be out a few more customers.

Best Brownies
1 Cup/215 grams Sugar
1/2 Cup/75 grams Flour
1/3 Cup/ 32 grams Cocoa Powder (I use Hershey's.)
1/4 teaspoon/ 1 gram Salt
1/4 teaspoon/ 1 gram Baking Powder
1/2 cup/105 grams Butter, melted
2 Eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
70 grams Chopped Dark Chocolate (about one good handful of chocolate chips)

In a small mixing bowl, blend together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder and salt with a whisk. 
Add melted butter,eggs, and vanilla- mix well. Pour in chocolate chunks and again, mix well. 
Pour batter into a lightly greased 8x8 inch pan. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes depending on how gooey you like them! I tend to lean on the gooooooey-er side of things.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

What's a Buckle?

Anyone who has ever moved knows the absolute joy of cleaning out the cabinets that last week in the apartment/house. Using the last of your sugar, flour, butter, pasta, tomato sauce, cereal, and whatever is left in the freezer, then trying to find a way to piece it all together into a meal or a dessert. Over the weekend I made brownies (which I thought I had blogged but evidently haven't. Soon!), blondies (also coming soon to a blog near you!), and oatmeal raisin cookies. While doing the Freezer Check, I realized that we still had some frozen blueberries and not enough of everything else to make these muffins

What to do What to do? I can't waste blueberries. I love them too much. And, any excuse to try a new recipe is always welcome. So, the search began! Combing the web for a recipe that used the blueberries without using something that I didn't have to begin with (no extra shopping!) or didn't have enough of. After going here and here and several of my other regular places,  I landed on this recipe for a Blueberry Buckle and while I had no idea what a "buckle" is (unless it's on my belt) it was the only one that met all the criteria.

Oh. My. Word. I don't even care what a buckle is now. All I need to know is it tastes soooooo good with a morning cup of coffee.

Blueberry Buckle
Recipe slightly modified from Allrecipes
1/4 cup Butter
3/4 cup Sugar
1 egg
2 cups all purpose flour ( I used: 1 1/3 cup ap flour and 2/3 cup whole wheat)
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/3 teaspoon Salt
1/2 cup Milk
2 cups blueberries
2/3 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Flour
1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/3 cup cold butter

In a small mixing bowl, cream 1/4 cup butter and 3/4 cup sugar. Beat in the egg. Add flour, baking powder and salt to bowl. Mix slowly and gradually add the milk. Dough will be very thick. Very gently, fold in blueberries so as not to crush them.
Pour into greased 8 inch square pan.
In a small bowl, mix sugar cinnamon and flour. Cut in the butter until it resembles large crumbs. Sprinkle over dough in pan.
Bake at 375 degrees F for about 40-45 minutes.

Aww Man...

I had post all ready for you guys today but blogger is not letting me upload the photos.. and what's a recipe without a photo?? Hopefully they will get this worked out quickly! While we wait, what do you think of the new layout? Better or Worse? 

I think I like it. Simple.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Week in Reverse

Well, this has been a fun one.. I really have had every intention of blogging in the past week but there have been just a few things going on.. Here's the rundown:

1) Last Thursday/Friday - Severe stomach ache sets in, can't hardly stand to touch my stomach. Think to myself "eh, it will go away."
2) Monday, lunch with friend in Nice, work at library, all while wearing 4 inch heel boots (6 hrs). Stomach is still aching.
3)Tuesday, Wake up with stomach ache, knee the size of a cantaloupe**, an elbow that stays at a 90 degree angle, and a fever. 
4) Hubby, who has been worried about the stomachache, insists on going to the dr. just to make sure all will be ok. A 4 day stomachache is nothing to mess with. So, we go to the ER. 
5)Where, I pass out in the lobby. After 6 hours, my first EVER IV, blood work, xrays, they can't find anything that is wrong with me. Which is good, I guess. 
6) Wednesday and Thursday are spent with me being unable to put on a shirt, touch the top of my head, scratch my nose, or really walk. But, stomach is not hurting as much. Or maybe everything else just hurts worse... 
7)Friday- Things are starting to recover. I can touch the top of my head, successfully put on my own shirt without assistance, and my left leg will almost fully extend. I sound my older than my 25 years, don't I?? 

All's well that ends well.
Moving update: Things in the apartment are selling well and we are slowing moving them out. Our moving day is the 14th of Feb. and our flight leaves Nice on the 19th. Wow. 

**I have degenerative knees and should probably never wear 4 inch heels. I have learned my lesson. Flats. Flats are my friend.